This has NOTHING to do with the traveling Marshalls, but it’s almost Mother’s Day and I just feel a strong desire to write a blog post about my mom. About losing my mom. I know…it’s heavy and depressing and grim and not the usual vibe of m’ blog. But indulge me. My mom’s dead…it’s the least you can do.
Sorry. My brother and I tend to do this. We make “dead mother” jokes. To keep it light. To show people that we are okay. We are okay. Our world was devastated, but we keep living and laughing. Isn’t that what Barbara would want? God, I miss her sense of humor and her laughter. Her jokes. Her voice.
I lost my mom on October 10, 1999. Changed me. Changed my world. I don’t talk about it much. I talk about my mom, but not her death or its impact. Losing her was the worst thing I’ve ever experienced. I was 24. She was 56. Now, at almost 42, those numbers stop me in my tracks. 24. 56. I was so young. So naive. She was so young, too. I truly thought we were both so old and had lived a long, good life together. I had no idea what it would be like to be a motherless adult woman, a motherless wife and a motherless mom…a motherless daughter. I really didn’t have a clue. Why would I? Nobody does. Unless you’re in this stupid club…you don’t know either. No matter what your age. This unwanted “wisdom” comes with your membership card.
Mother’s Day. For the first 5 years it was quite miserable. I didn’t have a mom and I wasn’t a mom. I saw the commercials and cards and felt this day was just a big fat reminder of what I didn’t have. I would stay inside all weekend because it hurt to see people out celebrating with their moms. 1999 was the last Mother’s Day with my mommy. Her cancer diagnosis came right around that time. I remember she gave ME a Mother’s Day card that year thanking me for all my help. It was not a good time. Scary. Unknown. Pain. Even after becoming a mom, my heart just couldn’t “celebrate” Mother’s Day. I faked it for the kids and Wes. I still don’t care for the day or care too much about it. I feel loved every day; I’m good. It has become my “pity party” day and I hate that. I don’t want anyone feeling sorry for me. I am usually glad when it’s over.
I heard Whoppi Goldberg describe losing her mom once and what she said was exactly how I’d been feeling for so long, but couldn’t identify. She talked about missing her mom’s love. And that was it. Precisely. I missed being THAT loved. THAT important to someone. THAT special. Think about it…my kids are my EVERYTHING. They really are. I miss being someone’s everything. It sounds a little selfish. But it’s not…it is purely about being loved. A mother’s love is THAT powerful and it was taken away from me too soon. I still need it. I’ve always carried on feeling so blessed that I felt that love for 24 years. It gives me great solice. It is not always a guarantee. Some people have a living mother and don’t know that love. I knew it every single day of my life. How amazing is that? I’m so lucky. Grateful. That’s why it felt like we had a good, long life together. We had enough good to last me a lifetime. I still wish I had more.
My mom died the Sunday of Columbus Day Weekend. I wasn’t prepared. She’d been sick since May, but I didn’t actually know she was going to die until the day before. I spent that whole weekend in a fog. People were in and out of my house. I barely noticed. I had spent 5 months in the trenches of this brutal disease. Now it was over and there was nothing left to do. I had been doing so much that if felt strange. I don’t even know who was there. Such a blur. All I know is we were surrounded by loved ones and that meant a lot. We were not alone. Yet…I was the only daughter there watching my mom die. 3 of us were there that day watching our mommy die. But my mom was also a wife and sister and aunt and grandmother and friend. She was quite popular. For all the love she gave me…she, too, was so loved. My mom was actually adored. I love that about her. I was happy to share her love with others. I knew my relationship with her was special. She had no other daughters and I had no other mother. People who knew and loved my mom have a very special place in my heart. It helps me feel connected to her.
I did some very difficult things during the 5 months of her illness and after her death. She had taken care of me my whole life and now the roles were reversed. I lived home during this time while I was beginning my teaching career. I took Mom to chemo and radiation. I filled prescriptions and fed her through an IV. Then came the heartache of buying a cemetery plot, planning a funeral. I can still picture myself standing in her closet picking out HER funeral clothes. I shopped for myself, too, and it was surreal to be at the mall watching people act like the world was so normal. Life was going on, but I felt like I was in a dream. A haze. I planned a funeral. Picked out a freaking casket. I’m not listing all of this because I was a hero. Far from it. I wish I had done some things differently and those are tough thoughts. And I wasn’t alone. We had so much support. Those 5 months were awful because she was not well and it was so hard to see her suffer. When she died, I definitely felt relief for her. Cancer was finally gone. Stupid cancer.
My mom was the best of the best. I wish all of you reading this could have known her. I smile and feel genuinely happy when I think about her. I don’t relate my mom to loss. She is a happy thought. Although, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve needed her in the last 17 years. Pretty much every day. So happy she loved my Wes. She would’ve gone crazy over my 3 kids more than I can even tell you. They would be perfect in her eyes. I’m sure. She would set them straight and spoil them with so much love and Beanie Babies. I’ve had to rely on so many other people in my life to fill the void. My sweet Auntie Kathy is stuck listening to the minutia of my life and giving me so much emotional support. I don’t know what I’d do without her. Wes has always been my strength. My dad and brothers are so very important to me…we went through it all together and we are still standing…a pretty amazing Buckley family.
One thing that helped me get out of my Mother’s Day funk was realizing I wasn’t alone. So I slowly started to acknowledge this dumb holiday again. I sent cards to other women in my life who have lost their moms. Sadly, over the years, this list grew and grew. The club nobody wanted to join, and I was constantly “welcoming” new members. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to send any of those cards this year. I’m thinking of you ALL. Especially if it is your first motherless Mother’s Day. You’re all in my hearts. I dedicate this blog post to my Dead Mom’s Club back in Denver…xoxoxo DMC forever!!!!!!
Thanks for reading. I know it’s not a pleasant subject matter. I just felt compelled to write it. So I did. This Sunday, I plan to keep it simple and do a few things I love with my crew…in Australia!
To all who celebrate: Happy Mother’s Day.
To all who don’t: I get it.